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This tour follows the advance of the Anglo-Canadian armies of 21st Army Group from the Normandy beachhead, across Franc and Belgium to Nijmegen and Arnhem in the dash for the Rhone Bridges in 1944. We then follow the fighting in the Rhineland and the Rhine crossings to the North German Plain and the Luneberg heath and Belsen.
12:00 Meet Guide and coach at Caen Station. Check in to Hotel. Guided tour of the highlights of the British landing grounds and beaches. Welcome dinner (own expense)
Breakfast in Hotel. Depart hotel with packed lunch for tour
Meals: B L
Breakfast in hotel. Depart hotel with packed lunch for tour of: Operation CHARNWOOD (7 – 9 July 1944). The objective was to capture Caen and its surrounding plain to allow the expansion of the bridgehead and enable freedom of movement south. It was preceded by a massive aerial bombardment by allied air forces. Much of Caen was destroyed. German forces evacuated Caen whilst the Canadian 3rd Division seized the important Carpiquet airfield in the subsidiary ‘Operation WINDSOR’. The Anglo-Canadians entered a devastated Caen on the 9th July. This morning we cover:
Preliminary operations on British 3rd Division front during June – Cambes (RUR) and Chateau La Londe (Operation Mitten) –S Lancs, Suffolks and E Yorks
Visit to Cean Memorial Museum if time allows
p.m. Picnic lunch. Operation GOODWOOD (18 – 20 July 1944) – The Great Tank Charge. Three armoured divisions had the objective of seizing the high ground to the south east of Caen beyond the Bourgebus Ridge. The largest British tank battle of the war followed with heavy losses of over 400 tanks. It was supported by a Canadian operation ATLANTIC to clear the southern suburbs of Caen and push up on to the Verrières Ridge. There were over 2,300 Canadian casualties and the attack was repulsed. ATLANTIC was followed by Operation SPRING by 2nd Canadian Corps to tie down German armour in the area. See:
Butte De La Hogue viewpoint – clearing the minefields
Banneville War Cemetery
Cagny - Destruction of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
Bourgebus – Consolidation
Verrières Ridge– The Canadian attack.
Return to Hotel. Overnight in hotel.
Meals: B L
Breakfast in hotel. Depart hotel with packed lunch for tour of: Operation TOTALISE (7 – 14 Aug 1944). A mainly Canadian affair to seize the high ground above Falaise and support the American breakout further west (Operation COBRA). Preceded again with tactical bombing by allied bombers. New tactics used and the Kangaroo armoured personnel carrier made its first appearance (a Canadian adaptation of a self-propelled gun). Polish forces joined their British and Canadian allies on the drive down the Caen-Falaise road. The ground above Falaise was stoutly defended by the young soldiers of the 12th SS Hitler Jugend Division. Highlights include:
Line of Departure for Operation TOTALISE
St. Aignan de Cramesnil – The death of Michael Wittman
Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery
The destruction of a ‘lost’ Canadian armoured olumn - Worthington Force
The Canadian capture of Point 195 (Worthington’s original objective)
p.m. Picnic lunch
Operation TRACTABLE (14 – 21 Aug 1944)
Another attempt to trap the retreating German Army in what became known as the Falaise Pocket.
Canadian forces were supported by the Polish Armoured Division. The Pocket was eventually closed at Chambois after much bitter fighting.
Hill 117 and St Lambert - the story of Major David Curry VC, South Alberta Regt – how a small group of Canadians denied the Germans an escape route.
Moissy hamlet – the ford over the River Dives – a choke point in the “corridor of death” –
Destruction of German 7th Army and Panzer Group West
Chambois – Closing the Pocket
Return to Hotel. Dinner provided in hotel. Overnight in hotel.
Meals: B L D
Breakfast in hotel. Check out of hotel with packed and load baggage. Finish our tour. By August 19, the jaws had closed to a two-mile gap between the villages of St Lambert and Chambois, a gap obstructed by the River Dives. The remaining 100,000 Germans were ensnared under merciless bombardment from the air and surrounding Allied positions. At midday on August 19, the Polish 1st Armoured Division took Hill 262 - bang in the centre of the gap. In theory, its capture should have meant the jaws snapped shut. In practice, the Poles found themselves cut off from the supporting Canadians - and under assault from all sides. The Germans still within the pocket fought desperately to get out. Short of food and out of munitions, the Poles hung on for two days and two nights, often fighting hand-to-hand. After the battle Canadian Engineers erected a sign, ’This is a Polish Battlefield’. Here we will see:
Viewing platform at Hill 262
Mémorial de Montormel – a museum devoted to the battle (admission included)
At midday we depart for Calais. (Packed lunch provided.) This afternoon we return to Caen Station where your tour ends.
Meals: B L